The latest out of Pittsburgh…
- The Pirates have been connected to free-agent shortstop Freddy Galvis this winter, though general manager Neal Huntington suggested Saturday that a deal between the two sides won’t come together. “We feel like we got a young Freddy Galvis. His name is Erik Gonzalez,” said Huntington, who added the Pirates are optimistic Gonzalez and fellow middle infielder Kevin Newman will “be as good if not better than what Freddy Galvis or any of the others who are out there right now or any of the players we can get in a trade right now” (via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). The 27-year-old Gonzalez didn’t provide much at the plate in Cleveland from 2016-18, but Pittsburgh was excited to acquire him in November, and he’s now the favorite to serve as its Opening Day shortstop. Pirates scouts were “beating the table” to get Gonzalez, who they believe will be “’above average. Dynamic. Very good. More range than anybody you’ve had at short maybe some you have managed,'” manager Clint Hurdle said.
- Gonzalez is one of a slew of cheap players for the budget-conscious Bucs, who are poised to enter the season with an outlay under $75MM, Jason Martinez of Roster Resource estimates. Huntington defended the Pirates’ low-payroll ways Saturday, telling Adamski, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and others that they’ve succeeded in the past in spite of their financial disadvantages and adding: “Spending gives you a larger margin for error and what GM wouldn’t want a larger margin for error?” It does not guarantee you anything other than you spent money. The upgrade is not guaranteed.” And though the Pirates haven’t closed the door on making further additions on the open market, where they’ve picked up Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Lyles and Jung Ho Kang this winter, Huntington seemingly isn’t a big fan of taking that route. Free agency’s a “losing game,” according to Huntington. “When you sign a free agent, you have automatically outbid everybody else to get him 95, 99 percent of the time. You have theoretically overpaid to get that free agent.”
- Pittsburgh is far from the only team eschewing sizable free-agent contracts this offseason, which Pirates right-hander and union representative Jameson Taillon spoke about Saturday. Taillon’s fellow players are “pretty riled up and pretty upset” about the current state of affairs, revealed Taillon, who was present for the union’s recent board meetings, Brink reports. While Taillon conceded that players are hard to sympathize with because many are earning millions of dollars, he pointed out that “the owners are making money too, and they’re making way more than we are.” The players, mindful of that fact, may be more inclined to go to arbitration rather than accept what often end up as team-friendly extensions during their arb-eligible years, Taillon contended. Taillon’s words are the latest indication that the players and owners could be in for an ugly labor war when the collective bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1, 2021.